Mike Vickers' Blog

June 6, 2019

Macron and Trump

Filed under: D Day, Trump, War — derryvickers @ 1:01 pm

Macron or Trump – World Leaders

On looks: I know who I would turn to

A comparison

Macron and Trump at Colleville-sur-Mer

June 5, 2019

Britain must not turn its back on the world made possible by D-day

Filed under: Brexit, D Day, Europe, Personal, War — derryvickers @ 10:59 pm

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/05/britain-d-day-commemoration-trump-brexit-war

Martin Kettle

I cannot emphasise more clearly Kettle’s message

My primary school lessons were paused to hear a live broadcast from the landing on the D Day morning.

75 years in Europe without a major war. Brexit is at best an anachronism.

March 24, 2019

Music to make you forget Brexit – for just a while

Filed under: Brexit, Music, Personal, War — derryvickers @ 10:20 pm

A Weekend of Music

Friday: RSNO Three pieces.

  • A new commission by Paul Chihara, A Japanese, as a child in a relocation camp in the US during WW2. The piece was called A Matter of Honor. Music and Narration. The last narration finished with “when asked in 1942 if she believed that peace and freedom were possible anywhere in the world: “Yes, with all my heart, because in this faith, in that hope, is my future, and the world’s future”
  • Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninov. The pianist was Olga Kern and required much stamina to be heard over the full orchestra which she did
  • Symphony No5 by Prokofiev. The ultimate antidote to Brexit.

How Rachmaninov and Prokofiev got by the Russian sensors in 1934 and 1942 is unclear to me as both were certainly not in the classical style of Brahms; much more ‘romantic’.

Saturday Scottish Opera performing Katya Kabanova by Janacek. The music to me is tremendous, the Scenery of based around the Volga with a bridge over was a construction to be marvelled at. All so much as to overawe the singing. Katya throws herself into the Volga at the end, not surprising as the possessive Mother in Law was demonic; not one to welcome home!

And today Sunday, a much more relaxed performance with Dvorak, Bartok and Strauss by the strings of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. The Strauss was Metamorphosen. One of his last pieces and one to let the music wash over you. It was written for 23 strings but the SCO managed very well with just 7. Strauss wrote it on the back of WW2.  Will see a Musician of his calibre to write similar music on the back of Brexit; we can only hope.

March 18, 2019

DUP, Brexit and The Good Friday Agreement

Filed under: Good Friday Agreement, Ireland, Politics, War — derryvickers @ 11:58 am

Following on from my Blog: Derry Girls, Bloody Sunday and the Border

I consider it a deplorable situation where a party in Northern Ireland, the DUP, is determining whether the whole UK is leaving or remining in the EU. The DUP, although the major party in Northern Ireland, JUST, has no formal political power in that country as the Northern Ireland Parliament has not met for 2 years over an issue that was at least in part due to the First Minister’s (Arlene Foster) dealings on electricity.

I state straight away that I feel that the UK leaving the EU is a disaster and am biased. During the last 50 years, Europe has been war free; not being an historian I don’t know when this occurred before, but I suspect it is quite long ago.

Oddly, some 20 years ago, I was on a plane back from Germany and I spent the whole fight defending Ian Paisley and the feeling that the protectants in Northern Ireland felt uncomfortable with the dominant catholic population in Southern Ireland next door.

So, I was elated when the Good Friday Agreement was signed, and I can still remember the photo of the Chuckle Brothers: Ian Paisley (DUP) and Martin McGuiness (Sinn Fein), (see in the article below)

Not only is the DUP now threatening the UK that they may only support Theresa May’s EU Deal if they are doled out more cash, they are, in practice at least, threatening the Good Friday Agreement itself.

For a more substantive argument than mine on the DUP’s intransigence see Patrick Cockburn’s article in today’s Independent.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/brexit-latest-northern-ireland-backstop-vote-a8822836.html

Incidentally while Tony Blair has been much criticized since leaving office, he did, as Cockburn’s article states. reach agreement with Southern Irelands Prime Minister on the Good Friday Agreement.

March 5, 2019

Frank Field – Independent Labour MP for Birkenhead

Filed under: Birkenhead, Brexit, Frank Field, Left Politics, Personal, War — derryvickers @ 9:04 pm

I was born in Birkenhead, well the posh part to the south, Bebington, not that that was that posh as it was just half a mile from Port Sunlight, the soap factory of Lever Brothers where just before going to Liverpool University I did a vac job for 2 months.

But back to Birkenhead, Field was after my time; after graduating I headed south wanting to go to Singapore with the IGY. No such luck, I joined the Scientific Civil Service near Windsor and moved into computing and spent my working life in many aspects of the subject. I am not complaining, computing was new and exciting in those days.

But again, back to Birkenhead, I can still remember cycling around Birkenhead Docks; there were docks in Birkenhead then for cargo ships that overflowed from Liverpool on the opposite side of the Mersey. The docks were exciting places to cycle around with ships from all over the world. But many’s the time I got my front tyre stuck in the embedded dockside railway lines and fell off.

It also built ships at Cammell Laird’s; I watched the launch of the aircraft carrier Ark Royal

You can get an overview of Birkenhead at wiki

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birkenhead.

Everyone worked in Liverpool, a ferry boat away, or you could risk your life cycling through the Mersey Tunnel; fine going down to the middle but hell cycling up the other side with lorries trying to inch past you; I did it for a year but after that got the ferry and the tram. I did well predate the Beetles

All that’s by the way, although I have seldom been back I still feel an attachment to Birkenhead and I am proud of Frank Field and independent Labour soul who chairs the the Work and Pensions Select Committee.

He is quoted “In December 2017, during a debate on Universal Credit, Field described the impact that Universal Credit changes had had on his constituents. His observations moved Work and Pensions Select Committee member Heidi Allen to tears”.

He is an avid supporter of Climate Protection and features the protection of rain forests; all excellent, but I cannot agree with his attitude to Brexit even though I can see where he is coming from.

But you might like a piece in today’s “I” on “Ending benefits freeze to ease poverty”.

You may admire a new sculpture in Birkenhead Part of the exhausted solder in remembrance of WW1.

February 13, 2019

Babel – a piece by the Venezuelan Pianist and Composer Gabriela Montero

Filed under: Music, Politics, War — derryvickers @ 9:29 pm

 Babel

 We have just been to a concert given by the Scottish string orchestra, the Scottish Ensemble.

The programme was called Babel after a new composition by Gabriela Montero and focused on the interplay between Music and Politics.  The music covered the modern period from Shostakovich, Glass, Vasks, and finished with Messiaen ‘Quartet for the End of Time’.  Messiaen wrote it while a prisoner in a German war camp and played it at a camp ‘concert’; the piece this evening was transcribed just for violin and piano; the violin, played by Jonathan Morton leader, sang out piercingly above the piano, played by Montero and you could hear the proverbial pin drop.  Written I understand for cello, violin, piano and clarinet certainly didn’t suffer for the transcription.

The Shostakovich was his Chamber Symphony written after the death of Stalin and a lot freer because of it ;  while the Philip Glass featured two violins first in dissonance but finishing in harmony but backed by the full strings. The Vasks in contrast brought in the Environment and very much the personal.

 But the centre piece was written and played by Gabriela Montero called ‘Babel’ and the music centred around political unrest in Venezuela.  Montero is Venezuelan and present-day Venezuela hurts her, and this piece of music was written before the latest turbulent event. The piece is for piano with Montero playing piano and for strings, the Scottish Ensemble being a string orchestra made the most of it; hurt mixed with laughter.

The Scottish Ensemble wins hands down of all the orchestras we go to.  They act as one and clearly enjoy playing together, as they did this evening.  A lot of this night’s music was painful, the Messiaen in particular, while the Vasks piece had a serenity and the Glass had a rhythm and repetition that mirrors the modern world.   We were asked to hold off clapping till the end but when the end came the applause was overwhelming.  This was enhanced by Gabriela Montero pulling out of dress a Venezuelan Flag and bowing; the audience was cheered.

 Gabriela Montero talking on her new piece if you would like at

 https://scottishensemble.co.uk/magazine/venezuelan-pianist-gabriela-montero-discusses-her-new-piece-babel/

 

November 12, 2018

Armistice Day and Brexit

Filed under: Anna Soubry, Brexit, History in the making, In Our Time, War — derryvickers @ 8:07 am

I feel I had to say something on this Armistice Day.

I went to no church service, I only looked at the pictures on the web, but I did stand two minutes quietly alone at 11am.

Armistice dictates that at least we must be part of the Common Market, and I believe we should provide open access to Europeans to this country.

I find it totally ironic that on the Day we remember the horrific First World War that we, at the same time, struggle to leave the Europeans in the lurch; at this moment in time they need us as much as we need them. It was Churchill after the Second World War who enunciated the need for a Unite Europe; not just Magnanimity in Victory but a necessity in the hope that we don’t enter into a third world war.

I am not a Tory, but I have now a great deal of sympathy for Theresa May. She was given an excruciating hand by Cameron; yes, she needn’t have picked it up but in retrospect there was no one else. I can only hope that May can create something out of the ashes. Yes, a second vote would be best, but I worry that the people would be given anything coherent to choose between.

October 7, 2018

The Cumnock Tryst.

Filed under: Music, Poetry, War, World Class — derryvickers @ 8:40 pm

 Cumnock is not an exciting place, it used to be the central town of the Ayrshire Coal Field; now no more.  However, it’s the birthplace of Sir James MacMillan and what a difference he has brought to the Town.  He created the Cumnock Tryst  five years ago and since then the Tryst opens up the Town to music and the elite come to Cumnock (rather than vice versa).  Not only the music goers but this year the Tryst was graced by Ian Bostridge.

We went to just two pieces (6 in all); the second first; a musical promenade through the rooms of Dumfries House.  The House was saved and restored with the support of Prince Charles and Alex Salmond with Scottish Government Money. The Promenade started with Nikita Naumov on double base – a young Russian who plays with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and looked delighted at his reception today.  Then came the primary school bell ringers supported by Sirocco Wind and local singers.  The bell ringers chimed to old tunes and new from MacMillan; you may think this childish, but MacMillan takes it very seriously and it’s great that he uses his talents to bring forth kids to succeed him and in doing so becomes one source of dispelling the previous desperate state of the town and its surroundings.  The Promenade finished with five modern French pieces for woodwind from the Sirocco Wind – all young and should go far.

But the truly outstand piece was last night was an oratorio by MacMillan that will be played later this month by London Symphony Orchestra to mark the Armistice of WW1.  But that performance is unlikely to be anywhere near as exciting as last night’s.  The Oratorio text came from a WW1 Scottish poet, Charles Hamilton Sorley.  Sorley like so many other poets only lasted just 6 months into the battlefield; the text is entitled ‘All the Hills and Vales Along’.  The players were: Ian Bostridge the lead tenor, the Cumnock Tryst Festival Chorus, the Edinburgh Quarter (a group of four, two of whom regularly play with the Hebrides Ensemble), Naumov on double bass and the Sirocco Wind but the main orchestra came from the Dalmellington Band (Brass);  the mines may have closed but the Band plays on;  and how MacMillan had the Band at the core of his oratorio;  it shatters the desire of the Scottish Government to save money by deleting music education from school curricula.  There was a standing ovation and quite rightly so.

 

September 24, 2018

Brexit is an obscenity.

Filed under: Europe, History in the making, Personal, War — derryvickers @ 9:36 pm

We may have fought in Europe for centuries .

But

We are part of Europe.

We were born out of Greece.

Watch Andrew Graham-Dixon and the Art of Germany in ‘The Shadow of Hitler’.

And in particular the work of Joseph Beuys.

And why we must avoid war in Europe , if possible, in the future.

Brexit underpins this objective.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00wlrzx/art-of-germany-3-in-the-shadow-of-hitler

Brexit is an obscenity.

 

December 14, 2016

Aleppo – an abject failure of the West

Filed under: History in the making, Left Politics, Politics, USA, War — derryvickers @ 2:23 pm

It would have been quite possible to provide food and medicine to Aleppo using gps guided-parachutes. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/08/push-for-east-aleppo-aid-drops-using-gps-guided-parachutes

Even on Saturday Corbyn stood stony faced and silent why Peter Tarchell demonstrated for air drops. One expects such response from the Tories but not from Labour.

https://leftfootforward.org/2016/12/peter-tatchell-aleppo-is-todays-guernica-where-is-labour/

But I can remember the Berlin Air lift, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Blockade, and I note a comment in Wiki as to why the Soviets did not interfere: ‘ The Soviets did not disrupt the airlift for fear this might lead to open conflict’. It is likely to have been the case with Aleppo,

Of course it was far too late on Saturday but this is likely to be a further nail in Labour’s coffin.  It could certainly be the most serious indictment of Obama’s term of Office.

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